Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Ball cousins

We have been so busy since Tuesday that I haven’t had a chance to blog about our time with Ed’s brother and his family! Right now I’m sitting in the Long Beach airport, so I thought I’d see how far I get…

We arrived at Eric & Jacq’s about 2:00 on Tuesday. We spent the afternoon and evening just hanging out, playing, and getting ready for our big day at Disneyland. It’s amazing that no matter how long it is between visits, the Ball cousins have no trouble jumping right in and playing together. They get along great and we are so thankful! This year was the first time that Connor really noticed he’s the only boy among 7 girls, so I felt kind of bad about that.

On Wednesday, we got up REALLY early and arrived at Disneyland at 8:05. It opens at 8:00! Some of the kids were so excited the night before that they didn’t sleep real well, so we had some tired kids, but they were troopers! I absolutely love Disneyland and was so excited to be there with the whole family. We had a beautiful day – cool and overcast until after noon, and never hot. It was crowded, but there were only two rides that we waited in line for over an hour…Space Mountain and Indiana Jones. All the other rides were 40 minutes or less, even those without Fast Passes! The new Star Tours ride was AMAZING, and all the girls loved every ride! I even saw a bit of a light show on the “It’s A Small World” ride and then got to ride it at night, which was a dream come true for me. Elise didn’t get to see any live princesses, which was a bummer, but we weren’t in Fantasyland at the times when the princesses are there (it’s too crowded in there during those times), but when we watched the night show “Fantasmic”, she got to see them there. That show was really incredible and we had a great vantage point. The show started at 10:30, and believe it or not, we still went and did Buzz Light Year Astro Blasters after that AND shopped on Main St. We actually heard the announcement, “Attention guests! Disneyland is now closed” at midnight! We were literally there from open until close with 7 children (we left the 18 mo. old with her grandma) ages 3-13 with no meltdowns and only minimal complaining about being tired. Wow! I’m sure I will write more about Disneyland once I start editing pictures.

On Thursday we let the kids (& us!) sleep in and then headed to their community beach. It’s not really a beach…it’s a lake-shaped pool with sandbox sand brought in to create a beach. It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun. We got back around 3:00 and quick showered and bathed the kids because Ed’s Dad and Grandpa were coming over for a barbeque! They arrived around 3:45 and everyone had a great evening at Eric & Jacq’s new house, hanging out on their new patio furniture (which they got for FREE at a garage sale and it’s beautiful! I  need to garage sale down in RSM, I guess…) It was great to see Dad & Grandpa. That evening we let the kids have movie night and they all slept in the garage, which they use as a rec room – they painted it and brought in carpet, built storage, and they have a TV, Wii, foosball, air hockey, etc. in there. The adults watched “Iron Man 2”, except for me since I fell asleep on the couch.

Friday morning we slept in, again, and then went to the Discovery Science Center in Irvine, which was really cool. Jacq & I ran some errands in the afternoon to stock up on lots of treats for the community family movie night in the park. Around 5:30 we reserved our “spot” at the park, the kids played, we ate Chinese, the kids got their faces painted and got balloons, and then when the sun went down the movie began. Lots of families on blankets and lawn chairs outside watching “Despicable Me”. It was a pretty cute movie and the girls all loved it. We got home around 10:00 and everyone went to bed. This morning I packed while the kids played and then this afternoon we went to the Irvine Spectrum (a HUGE shopping center) and the kids got into their bathing suits and ran in the fountains there. Pretzels and some frozen lemonade for a snack and then we were off to the airport. We hit a little traffic on the way here, and this airport is pretty crummy. Now that we are over the sadness of leaving cousins (twice in one week! That’s so not fair!) and are on our way, we CANNOT wait to sleep in our own beds and get back to normal…although with me starting a new job at the end of August, I am not yet sure what normal is going to be…

We are all fighting colds, coughs, & sore throats, and I’m sure that our minimal sleep and eating out at least once a day for the past 15 days is NOT helping us fight those colds. We do intend to be at church Sunday morning, but I won’t be surprised if some of us are too sick when morning comes around…

It’s been a great trip and I hope that eventually I’ll be able to narrow down the photos and share some on the blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A nephew-ism

On the way home from San Diego on Monday evening, we stopped at Wendy’s for Frosty’s. My nephew Josh was desperately trying to tell his brother Carter something. He kept saying “Carter! Carter! Carter!” over and over. Finally he called out, (in perfect dramatic tone) “Carter! Carter! Listen! I’m NOT going to say it again. CARTER!”

Oh man, but did we laugh.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The River and San Diego

On Sunday morning we were blessed to visit The River Christian Reformed Church in Redlands where my brother and his family worship. I love going there. It’s such a blessing to see family and to worship there. Although, I admit, it has been harder the last couple times after Jean & Joanne both passed away. My heart feels heavy sometimes in Redlands. Ironically, their associate pastor preached on mourning on Sunday morning during the service. It was particularly poignant for us and we felt blessed.

As I mentioned, one of the blessings of worshipping at The River is seeing family. Many of Ed’s relatives attend there. On the way into the service, we saw Ed’s cousin Lou & his wife Cindy. I kept looking for Uncle Gordon during the whole service and finally saw him at the very end of the service. He recently remarried (Aunt Joanne passed away about 2 1/2 years ago) a widow and they were there together that morning. It was wonderful to meet Darlene and we even had a nice chat together about the service. It’s a blessing that she & Gordon have each other. I just about broke down, though, when Uncle Gordon introduced Becca to Darlene as “Pete.” That was Aunt Joanne’s pet name for Becca because of Becca’s propensity to wearing her bangs in her face, such that you can’t see her face. So Aunt Joanne took to calling her “Pete” whenever her hair was in her face. Such a bittersweet memory. Anyway, then we did finally also see Aunt Liz, but Uncle Rich was away. It was great to see Aunt Liz, but I did miss seeing Uncle Rich – he’s so genuine and he always tells me I look wonderful. Smile

After church we packed up and headed out for San Diego! We made a stop at In-N-Out for lunch and at Costco for gas. We ended up driving through Coronado and playing at Silver Strand State Park. We had a great time in the sand and in the waves and we even saw dolphins out in the water! After a few hours, we started to feel raindrops and the children were quickly beginning to fall apart. We packed up and headed to our hotel. After checking in, the guys took the kiddos swimming (for fun and to try to rinse some sand and salt water off), while Susanne & I went out and retrieved dinner. We watched some TV together while we ate and then headed to bed.

Monday morning brought lots of excitement as we prepared for our day at the zoo! It turned out to be a beautiful day, which unfortunately meant it was a bit crowded. Thankfully it’s a big enough zoo that you don’t generally feel overwhelmed by the crowds. We started with the “sunnier” half of the zoo and saw most of that before lunch, including an awesome encounter with a Malayan Brown Bear and viewing the Pandas with pretty much no line whatsoever. We ended the morning by watching the elephants, which was probably one of my favorite parts of the zoo. One elephant was in the pool, near the spray, with a zoo keeper feeding it some celery. Later on we listened to the head elephant keeper who explained that elephants have the intelligence of about a 4 or 5 year old human and are very trainable & food motivated. He was pretty funny as he asked you to imagine a 9000 pound 4 or 5 year old throwing a tantrum…

We had our picnic lunch and finished the rest of the zoo, though we were starting to drag by about 2:30. We quickly saw everything we wanted to see (skipping the petting zoo area and additional monkeys) and left around 4:30. We had an early dinner at McDonald’s down the street and then tired the kiddos out at the Balboa Park playground next to the zoo. What a great play area! We headed for home around 6:30, stopped for ice cream on the way, and got back to my brother’s about 8:45.

Today we say goodbye to my brother and his family. Sad smile It’s really hard to say good-bye this time because we don’t know for sure when we’ll see them again. We hope summer 2012, but most likely Christmas 2012. Thankfully we have technology and Skype available to us!

Later on this morning we will head to Ed’s brother’s and we are pretty excited about that! This is the final leg of our trip – spending some time with the Ball cousins!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


* Friday night’s adventure of sleeping on the trampoline has been judged a one-time experience…Nephew J coughed from about midnight until about 3:00 when my bro took him inside to his bed. Poor boy. I don’t know if he just wasn’t sleeping well or if the night air was affecting him or what. Then Ed went out to sleep the rest of the night with the girls on the trampoline. From what I hear, it got pretty cold and every time anyone moved, the whole trampoline moved. Obviously. Sarah came in and slept with me around 3:30, and Becca arose with the sun at about 5:30. Bethany & Elise, my hard sleepers, moved not a muscle the entire night and slept until almost 7:00 and so don’t quite understand why we’re not doing that again!

*Sarah went for a run with her aunt this morning…her shoulders were hurting a bit, so we’re not sure if it was the lack of sleep or the whack in the shoulder she got from a bush while playing Sardines last night.

*Scavenger Hunt Time! My bro & SIL planned out a big scavenger hunt all over town so we could see the sights of their hometown! We divided into two teams; Uncle Mikey’s team, which consisted of Ed, Sarah, Elise, & J; and Aunt Susanne’s team, which consisted of me, Bethany, Becca, & Carter. Can you guess who won? Of course it was Uncle Mikey’s team, but it was pretty close! If we had remembered that we already had finished 3 out of 5 on the “Anytimers” card, we would have beat them. Must be the lack of sleep getting to my brain! Oh well, there were no prizes for the winners, but we all had a great time!

*This afternoon we headed to south Redlands to a big fancy schmancy house that belongs to friends of theirs and they have a beautiful pool!

*Nephew J actually learned  how to swim for the first time without floaties! He swallowed a lot of water, but he did great!

*Nephew C wanted to be in the water all by himself, which of course he couldn’t, because he’s only 2, but Uncle Ed (who has once again become “the baby whisperer”) consoled him by playing fetch. C found a tub of ping pong balls, which he threw, one after another, onto the patio while Uncle Ed fetched. C laughed and laughed every time Uncle Ed had to pick up another ball. He did finally get in the water with Uncle Ed, but then got pretty tired (he had only a short nap and a couple of short nights) and so snuggled with his mommy.

*There was a slide at the pool, which was quite a hit with everyone and I think I got some good pictures, which will be posted at a later date, along with 30,000 other pictures.

*Elise swam across the length of the pool, by herself, at least 5 or 6 times, in addition to all the other playing she did. I think they will all sleep well tonight.

*Nephew J said, (while reading a decorated ping pong paddle) “’Made in China’. Hm. China is a good artist.” LOL!

*Dinner is just about ready and then it’ll be baths and a short movie for the kiddos before we plunk them to bed at a decent hour. Tomorrow brings Panera Bread bagels for breakfast and then church and then we’re off to San Diego for a beach and zoo getaway together!

Friday, July 22, 2011

First full day in Redlands

As I mentioned in the previous post, we arrived in Redlands about 16 hours earlier than previously planned. That meant waking up together, hanging out in jammies, and generally chilling out. So. Nice.

My nephews both took a little time getting used to the girls and us, but that’s to be expected. Ed, the girls, & I left shortly before 10:00 to pay Ed’s grandma a visit, which was really good for everyone. After a lunch which included my SIL’s amazing homemade bread, she & I went and did a little fun shopping (Cost Plus World Market, Target, and an antique shop) while the kiddos played in the sprinkler and on the trampoline. Our evening was full of dinner preparations, eating, laughing, roasting marshmallows, and more trampoline fun. When it got dark the kids played Sardines and are now outside trying to settle down on the trampoline in order to sleep under the stars. We’ll see how long that lasts…

Notable moments:

*When trying to give nephew C a hug, he crawled away to the farthest corner of the room and turned his back to me. He’s not quite used to Aunt Julie yet. Sad smile He actually loves Becca the best out of all the Ball family members.

*My bro told his son J that the lantern outside was a “clapper” and that it would go on and off with his clapping. But really my bro had the remote for the lantern in his pocket. Nephew J thought it was hilarious that he could turn the lantern on and off by clapping, but that clapping didn’t work for any of his girl cousins.

*Nephew J asked, “What are Smurfs?” when we announced it was time for S’mores.

*Lots and lots of giggling.

Saturday is scheduled to be a day of surprises…my bro & SIL have some tricks up their sleeves…

Our 2nd day at Bryce

The plans for our last full day in Utah included an antique shop, a special lunch, a couple hikes, a picnic dinner, and watching the sunset. The day ended up to be so much more than that, however!

Everyone slept in, (we had stayed up late the night before playing Fill Or Bust), wrote in their journals, and played outside before we headed north towards Bryce. The first stop was supposed to be a really fun-looking antique shop in the town of Hatch. Unfortunately, their hours of operation tend to be a little scattered and it was closed when we arrived at 11:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. I’m thinking maybe it’s more consistently open on the weekends? Ah well, we then stopped for lunch at Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant, famous for its homemade soup & pies. We had a pretty good lunch there, though we’ve definitely had better pie! Then we stopped at Ruby’s General Store outside the Bryce Canyon entrance for a few more bandaids for blisters and batteries for cameras. Then we were off to the Mossy Cave Trail! This short half-mile trail goes one direction to a cave and the other to a waterfall. We anticipated the cave more than the waterfall, since we thought the waterfall was for viewing only. As we walked up towards the cave, we began to see a little river, carved out by Mormon settlers, and we caught a glimpse of the waterfall. People were playing in the river and under the waterfall! We went towards the cave first, which was tinier than we expected, and nothing much to write home about. Then we walked toward the top of the waterfall. The girls & I went wading through the stream above the waterfall, which was very fast and challenging to walk in, but so refreshing! Ed & Sarah decided they were going to climb up the very steep trail on the other side of the river while I took the other girls back down the trail and we would meet up at the river on the bottom.

Well, after the girls & I got started on our trail, we remembered that Becca had put down her walking stick somewhere before walking in the river. We went back to retrieve it, but saw that another little boy had picked it up. I was trying to console Becca that now it was that little boy’s stick when he suddenly tossed it down over the waterfall into the pool below! I couldn’t believe his mother didn’t panic about that since there were several people playing in that pool down there! We could see the stick resting at the end of the pool, so the girls & I made our way down the trail and to the water. Then we walked upstream, crossing several times when the shore got too steep to walk on, towards the waterfall. When we arrived, the father of the family playing around the waterfall applauded my efforts of crossing the stream with my camera bag, camera, and the girls hanging onto me for dear life. We must have been quite the sight! Becca managed to get the stick and then the guy there took our picture by the waterfall. On the way back down river, we met up with Ed & Sarah, who were disappointed we hadn’t been on the other side of their steep cliff to watch them emerge from the hoodoos. Oops, sorry! But then we all waded back upstream to the waterfall again so that Ed & Sarah could see the waterfall. And once again, only one of my children managed to stay mostly dry.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that while we were hiking down to the river, we saw two California Condors soaring above us – a rare sight. We had heard while we were at Zion that there had been a recent Condor sighting and all the Rangers were on alert, ready to point one out to all visitors should another be sighted, but we did not see one that day. Then, suddenly, there they were. A blessing.

After the waterfall hike, we headed back into the main section of Bryce Canyon to see Sunrise and Sunset viewpoints and to hike the Navajo Loop. We looked around at Sunset Point before heading on our Navajo Loop trail. Again, this place has some of the most incredible scenery. Just amazing. The trail we were taking descended 550 feet into the canyon via a series of 31 steep switchbacks and a couple of steep staircases. Being in that canyon was incredible. It’s a totally different perspective on the canyon.

Once at the bottom of the canyon, we kept following the trail because it was supposed to be a “loop”. We figured we would ascend back up to the rim in a different place. Unfortunately, we walked quite a ways before we finally came across a sign that indicated that the second half of the trail was closed and we had to turn around and go back up the same way. That was pretty disappointing, because we wanted to see something else and we had walked so far in the bottom of the canyon. But, we headed back and saw the switchbacks from a different perspective – going up! The girls did AWESOME! No one complained the whole way up and I was much less terrified of someone falling off the cliff. We made it to the top and pretty much collapsed on the ground. No, not really, but we filled our water bottles and sat at a picnic table in the shade to rest for a while. Thankfully, it was only about 85 degrees with a slight breeze, and a lot of the time down in the canyon we were in the shade, so we were not at all too hot, but we did need to rest!

We then checked out Sunrise Point, found a picnic area, and ate our picnic dinner. The blue jays really enjoyed Elise’s crust that Ed threw on the ground. We drove back to Sunset Point (saw a fawn, doe, and young buck on the way) and took some pictures of the light changing on the canyon. So pretty. And with that, our time at Bryce was over.

Out of the 3 parks we’ve visited so far, Arches, Bryce, and Zion, my favorite is Zion. Right now we’re driving to the Grand Canyon and I’m trying to ask my family which park was their favorite, but everyone is looking at me like I’m crazy and saying “I don’t know”, so I guess they’re too tired and crabby. We got up awfully early this morning…

updated: I wrote the previous stuff yesterday, while driving to the Grand Canyon. We saw the Grand Canyon, which just isn’t quite so grand after seeing Bryce & Zion. It was super-busy there and much hotter than forecast. We saw a few view points and then we were done. We ate some ice cream at the general store and Ed looks at me and says, “Do you wanna go to the hotel?” I said, “Nope, do you?”  “Nope”.

So, we called the hotel and confirmed that there would be no charge for cancelling our reservation, called my brother to see if we could arrive late Thursday night instead of Friday afternoon, and hit the road! We made great time and arrived at my brother’s shortly before 10:00 p.m. We gained almost a whole extra day with them and saved $180 on the cost of a hotel!

This morning (Friday) we went to see Ed’s Grandma DeWitt who is 94. She’s doing pretty good and we are always really thankful for each time we get to visit with her. She reminds us SO much of Ed’s mom – it’s almost eerie. She is exactly what Jean would be like had she lived to be 94. Now it’s time for lunch, a little shopping, some hanging out, and lots of cousin love.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Today was a low-key day. We slept in, wrote postcards, played outside, and generally relaxed ALL morning. Had some leftover and odd assortments of food for lunch and then headed out for the day.

We first stopped at the post office to mail our first set of postcards, but they were closed for lunch. They only have one postal worker in this town, so I guess she has to eat lunch sometime. We went and got a few groceries that we needed and then went back to the post office. On the way, we confirmed the rumor about the sheriff cars staffed by mannequins. One mannequin was even asleep on the job…it’s so hilarious to me!

Then we headed back to Zion National Park! I really wanted to snap more pictures on Mt. Carmel Highway, so we stopped at quite a few of the turn-outs. Next time I come to Zion (which I hope is in fewer than 16 years, which is how long its been since we drove through on our way from Michigan to California after graduating from Calvin) I’m bringing a super-wide angle lens. It just isn’t possible to capture the landscape with a regular lens. Who knows if a wide-angle lens would do the trick, but it’d be worth a try!

Anyway, we had originally intended to do the drive to the other section of Zion, called Kolob Canyon, and then head back to the campground area for a dip in the river. But by the time we got to the campground area, it was almost 3:00 and driving to Kolob Canyon would have taken about an hour one-way. We elected to skip the drive and swim!

Wise choice. We had so much fun in the river, and I hardly even panicked about the girls floating away in the current. I didn’t take too many pictures as we were just having fun in the water, staying cool, and horsing around!

We stopped at a few more turnouts on the way back out of Zion on Mt. Carmel Highway (it’s a skinny little road with lots of switchbacks that makes it way from the bottom of the canyon to the top of the canyon) and the light was much different and so pretty. I’m sure my pictures will leave much to be desired. I just had to soak in as much as I could. It’s a kind of beauty that I have never seen before. Love. Love. Love.

We decided to have dinner at the pizza joint just outside of the Zion entrance. It was decent pizza, and we ate outside in the shade of the sort-of covered patio. It was about 90 degrees, but felt really comfortable and we were enjoying sitting there alone on the patio, eating together. All of a sudden it started to rain, which is when we discovered that only half of our table was actually covered by tin roofing. The other half was covered by slats of plywood that didn’t quite meet. As it began to DOWNPOUR, water came rushing down between the cracks, and splashed all around us. It surprised us so much that we were just giggling and laughing about the ridiculousness of the plywood coverings and the rain that came just at that moment when we could hardly see a cloud in the sky! We finally moved to all the way under the tin roofing, and then it started raining even harder! The rain was splashing up everywhere and getting us really wet, so we had to finally retreat to the indoor eating room. Thankfully, we were almost done with our pizza so we picked out our ice cream treat and headed for home. The girls are now taking their baths and showers (they swam in a river with tadpoles, after all, as I explained to the girls, who were protesting yet another bath night) and then we will have family game night. Tomorrow we return to Bryce for lunch at Bryce Canyon Pines (homemade soup & pie!), a couple hikes we didn’t get to on Sunday, and we hope to see the sunset from Sunset Point.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Random Tidbits

  • This trip has been amazing.
  • Flew to Vegas on Friday; drove to Arches.
  • Saw Arches on Saturday.
  • Saw Bryce on Sunday.
  • Saw Zion on Monday.
  • The ant population in Utah outnumbers the human population approximately 10,000,000,000 to 1.
  • When a little girl (NOT one of my little girls) starts singing, “WHYYYYYY am I such a good SIIIIIINGER?” at the top of her lungs on a hike, it totally gives all of us the giggles.
  • Utah Police are very diligent. And no, we did not get pulled over. Ed drives. We just see them everywhere. And we hear rumors about Sheriff cars planted in speed zone changes staffed by mannequins.
  • Only one of my children apparently knows the definition of the word “wading.” Guess which one? Guess which 3 got wetter than one should while wading?
  • These ghost/hick towns out here in the middle of nowhere are really…bizarre. Case in point: Saw a sign today that said, “The Tortoise & the Hare RV Park. We sell handmade porcelain dolls.” Wha?????
  • In recent years, I have become an acrophobe. This has become even more apparent as I watch my children hike next to cliffs. I lost years off my life in the last 3 days. I think that my phobia is in direct correlation to my oldest daughter’s carefree attitude about heights.
  • After 3 days of hiking (today we did over 6.5 miles, much of it UPHILL), my 37-year-old body is protesting. And so is Ed’s 36-year-old body. So there.
  • For $2.55, I can get 5 “smashed pennies”. Very cheap souvenirs that make me and my girls VERY happy.
  • Eating ice cream in a hand-carved, log-cabin style rocking chair, in 85 degree weather, outside Zion Lodge, soaking in the amazing scenery, with my girls and my guy, is just about as close to heaven as it gets. Becca & I decided on our last walk today that heaven must look a lot like Zion. Only not as hot.
  • 75% of visitors to America’s National Parks? Not Americans.
  • The vision of FDR and the work of the CCC during the depression gave an incredible gift to our country. No one should miss seeing these National Parks.
  • Of course, FDR & the CCC couldn’t have done it without the work of the Creator, who carved and sculpted and painted these canyons and monoliths and arches and hoodoos. Breath-taking. And praise-worthy.
  • Time away from home, with just us, is such a blessing. And we cannot wait to visit family for the second week of our vacation!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

GEMS conference, take two

I finally went through my pictures from the GEMS conference last weekend! It was in Ft. Collins, Colorado at Colorado State University. I think I’ve blogged most of the stories from the conference that I want to tell, but maybe as I post pictures I’ll think of more stuff…


Colleen & Grace and The Unity Band – our awesome praise & worship leaders


The Local Conference Committee – they served us well!


Friday’s speaker: Lisa Harper. She is so easy to listen to and so thought-provoking. She inspired us in our roles as mentors to the girls in our clubs.


The beautiful campus. The weather was really pretty good while we were there. We arrived & left with thunderstorms, but otherwise had sunny skies, and warm but not hot temperatures.



Ray VanderLaan spoke twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. He has so much knowledge about the Bible and the history and the culture in which it was written – SO many things I didn’t know. He’s spent literally YEARS of his life in Israel studying and teaching. If you EVER have a chance to hear him speak, take it. Or if you have the opportunity to watch his video series, “That the World May Know”, take it. You will learn so much.

He’s so entertaining to watch also. He was kind of like a caged animal up on the stage, pacing back and forth and back and forth, over and over. Every time he eventually ended up down on the floor where we were all sitting, just because he was so emotional and passionate about what he was saying.


I don’t think Tami knew I was taking this picture. I was fixing the settings on the camera so that someone could take a picture of the two of us and she was pretending to model, and I took the picture. Turned out cute! She looks just like a model!


Spotted this butterfly on these wonderful smelling trees. I think they might be linden trees, but I don’t know. They were all over the campus, though.


The picture of us on campus didn’t turn out very well, so we have this one out at Old Town Ft. Collins. Also not the best, but it’s us and we’re there.




All in Old Town, Ft. Collins


Had to get some Ben & Jerry’s while we were there!


That’s Colleen, doing her piano thing on the old piano in downtown. Many people stopped to sing and enjoy the evening with us – and look – there’s men! They’re not even GEMS counselors, or even GEMS Counselors’ husbands! They’re random tourists and locals! We heard from a lady in a nearby shop that she has never seen such a gathering of people, let alone a gathering singing songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, When the Saints!” It was a awesome experience and a great evening.


As part of Sunday morning worship, the Tableau team portrayed the story of the Prodigal Son. Tableau, or staging of Scripture, is a worship element I have never seen before. A narrator reads a portion of Scripture while the worshippers close their eyes. At the end of that portion, a bell is rung, and the people open their eyes. There on the stage is the frozen scene. After a few minutes, the bell is rung again, the worshippers close their eyes, and the narrator reads the next scene. During this time, the Tableau team is moving to their next spot and when the section of Scripture is read and the bell is rung, the worshippers open their eyes to see a new frozen scene on the stage. It was surprisingly moving and powerful. I was impressed. It is not showy. It is not a performance. It is thought-provoking and it brings Scripture to life, with no movement at all. I hope that people from our church, especially the Worship Man, sees this and considers utilizing it in a future service at our church. I loved it.

July 4, 2011

Yes, I’m belated about blogging this, but just bear with me. Summer is a new pace and I don’t have my “regular” blogging time.

Twenty years ago on this day, Ed & I had, for lack of a better word, our first date. I arrived in Fountain Valley, CA on June 28, 1991 to serve in S.W.I.M. Because Ed was not only in the youth group at FVCRC, but was also the church secretary for the summer, we saw a lot of each other right away. By July 2 or 3 we had asked the Pastor if it was OK if sort of “hung out”. (Dating was strictly forbidden…”If the chemistry of youth is working it’s magic, keep it low key.”) The Pastor said, “I wondered when the two of you would figure that out.” Smile

On July 4, we spent the day at the beach with the youth group and lots of people from the church. In the evening, the youth group went to Milesquare Park to watch fireworks. I don’t believe Ed & I saw any of the fireworks. We talked through the entire show. In fact, we didn’t even notice when the rest of the youth group snuck away and left us alone. I think we knew then that we would get married someday and therefore, “our first date.”

Here we are, twenty years later:


And here’s the rest of the pictures from what we did on July 4, 2011!


Our dinner picnic on the grass near Zuanich Point Park along Bellingham’s waterfront.






I handed Sarah the camera again for a while. She always takes fun and good pictures!



As we walked around Zuanich Point, we could see downtown, including the Flatiron Building.


And that’s the building with my zoom lens! You can just barely make out the word “LOGOS” on the building with the flag on the top. Up there by that flag is where we were when we watched the Bellingham Bay fireworks.


Zuanich Point is the location of the Haggen Family Fourth Festival. There were a couple bouncy houses and this slide that the girls loved!




Towards evening, many folks were bringing their sailboats and other watercraft out into the bay for firework viewing. I love the water and boats. I might have to put “own a boat” on my bucket list.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Third of July

We met some friends for a picnic at Lake Padden after church on the 3rd of July. I blogged about it a little bit here. I didn’t take very many pictures, as soaking up the sun from my comfy chair while chatting with my friend seemed slightly more important at the time…so much for the “Practically Professional Photographer” as I’ve been dubbed by friends…


All the girls swimming in the lake!


Elise enjoying her ooey gooey peanut butter brownie.




Elise eventually got cold and wrapped herself up in a towel on the grass to watch the other girls swim. She looked like a little turtle there in the sun and reminded me of baby days…when the girls were tiny, I would lay them on their tummies on my chest with their little legs all curled up underneath them and they always reminded me of little turtles when I did that.

And no, it does not make me want to have another baby. It just makes me want to hold one.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beauty & the Beast in Pictures

So I’m finally editing a few pictures. One of the things Bethany has done this summer was to be in the local Children’s Musical Theater Summer Stock performance. For 10 days, these kids rehearse, 4 hours a day. Then they perform and they are OUTSTANDING! This is Bethany’s second time being involved and she just loves it. It brings pure joy to my heart to see her smile and so happy for two solid weeks. She has no desire to “be the star”, but she gives her performances 110% every time and I am SO proud of her.

And now, pictures for your viewing pleasure!


In this scene, Bethany is the statue in the long white dress. Belle has discovered her father in the castle prison and the Beast has approached. At the end of the scene, when Belle takes the place of her Father, the statue (Bethany) comes to life to drag Belle’s father out.


Here Bethany is a villager.



Scenes in the castle



In the village, Gaston encourages the folks to “Kill the Beast!” while the head of the insane asylum (played by Mr. Ryan Smit) looks on.


Bethany’s curtain call from the first performance.


The second night, we had better seats to view Bethany’s staging. In the opening scene, she is a villager pretending to be a statue.




I love how expressive she is!



A villager singing “Gaston”



During “Be our Guest” (Regretfully, I don’t have any pictures of the “feather duster”, played by Jami Jo. Anyone else?)


Bethany is one of the plates in “Be Our Guest.”





Bethany with our neighbor and friend.


Our favorite director, Mrs. Dean!